The pandemic led to a boom in online shopping and it’s likely this shift is here to stay. We expect social platforms to play an important role in ecommerce’s expansion over the next 12 months – from how people find a product to how they buy and recommend it.
As well as further developing its payment system ‘Facebook Pay’, Facebook is also launching new product features with a clear focus on ecommerce. ‘Facebook Shops’ offers businesses the ability to create a customisable online store. Businesses can showcase their brand and key products across Facebook and Instagram while customers can place orders within the platform. It could be a key focus in emerging markets where digital is more in its infancy compared to Europe and the US.
In addition, as Facebook works towards greater interconnectivity between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp with a Messenger merger, new social ecommerce opportunities will arise.
For brands without the infrastructure to support bespoke ecommerce platforms, social ecommerce can be hugely beneficial. We’re already seeing TikTok pledge new functionality and support, specifically for small businesses. In the run up to Christmas, it created guidelines to help small business owners tap into the platform’s unique audience. Their own stats suggest 47% of TikTok users make a purchase decision based on what they’ve seen on the platform, and 75% of its users plan to support a small business. All this suggests a huge moment for SMBs.
Greater ecommerce opportunities means there’s a chance for brands to build in more of their sales function into social. The result could be a seamless journey for customers, going from targeted ad to purchase all in one platform. This could mean good news for marketers looking to increase ROI on social as it becomes easier to track and attribute success from one data source. It also makes it easier to plan for more of the customer journey in fewer channels. For those looking to streamline their processes in 2021, it makes social even more of an attractive channel.
Social ecommerce also lends itself well to testing. If brands are able to reach consumers initially on these channels, educate them about their products, nurture the relationship and then sell – all within the same space – it could be easier to see what changes are having the biggest effect on the entire customer experience. Data is power, and a channel’s ability to let marketers track and tweak their approach can be key.
Outside of social, the growth of brands selling directly to consumers spells further opportunity for brands willing to embrace ecommerce. For example, Beavertown has seen sales grow by 1,000% by adopting a direct to consumer model, despite initially seeing 85% of its sales cut due to the closure of pubs as the pandemic restrictions took hold.
As uncertainty and difficulties in maintaining the supply chain increase with Brexit and the pandemic, more brands might see a way to combat the struggles of their previous model by digitally going direct to the consumer.
The benefits go beyond sales. If brands are able to sell directly to the consumer and create a more customisable and intimate experience, consumers may be more open to being part of a community around the brand. This could open the doors to subscription models, brand advocacy and higher value customers.
This article is part of our five trends to expect in 2021series. Catch up on all the trends we’re expecting to see play out over the next 12 months:
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Written by Kinda Jackson, MD Digital & Influencer